The women who came before us – our mothers and their mothers – valued the longevity of their marriages.
They clung onto their husbands with all they had – even if they lost their sanity and peace of mind in the process. Perhaps this is because a man was all they had to live off, in a world where women’s career and financial choices were extremely limited.
But it is 2018. Today, women can vote, open bank accounts, become CEOs and own businesses without requiring a man’s ‘permission’.
In spite of this independence, I still meet women who think that staying married at whatever cost is life’s ultimate achievement.
These women make excuses for their inadequate partners. They stay with their cheating husbands as long as he pays the bills. They think that all marital problems – including physical and emotional abuse – can be solved by staying put and praying about it.
When you speak to a woman who was in her 20s or 30s three or four decades ago, you realise that a lot of us are picking the wrong lessons from these women’s lives.
While a lot of them stayed in long-term relationships that they loathed, when you pay attention, you realise that it wasn’t that staying married was a life goal. The truth is that marriage was a financial and survival tool.
Unmarried women were also stigmatised and ostracised, as were single mothers and divorcees. There were no support systems for women outside of marriage. Women endured unhappy marriages because there weren’t many other choices.
THINGS HAVE CHANGED
Things have changed since, and so should our mindsets. How long you can stay married should not be a measure of success – not today, when women can show up for themselves financially.
Can marriage be a good thing? Absolutely. The experiences that come with it can be a source of immense happiness.
Let us, however, stop lying ourselves that the woman that has been married the longest, no matter how bad this marriage has been or how much damage it has done to her self-worth, is the most successful in love.
There are other things that matter more in a romantic relationship than how long you have been able to hold on, like how fulfilled you are in a relationship, and how much your partner inspires you to be a better woman.
Be part of a relationship if you want to. Get married if it tickles your fancy. When it is time to let go, let go. Some relationships are supposed to end. The most important thing is that a relationship taught you something, not that it lasted forever.
Do not lose yourself trying to stay in a relationship because you think that this endurance is what will make you a ‘real woman’. It isn’t. If anything, it might make you the woman who resigned to a life of unhappiness, the one who let another walk all over her. Staying in a toxic relationship is a loss, not a win.